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Taiwan J Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Sep;51(3):418-20. doi: 10.1016/j.tjog.2012.07.018.

Extensive hepatic infarction in severe preeclampsia as part of the HELLP syndrome (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets): evolution of CT findings and successful treatment with plasma exchange therapy.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan.



We describe the serial computed tomography (CT) findings of extensive hepatic infarction and successful plasma exchange therapy in a severe preeclamptic woman with postpartum HELLP syndrome.


A 38 year-old woman presented with elevated blood pressure of 140-180/90-120 mmHg and 3+ proteinuria at 28 weeks of gestation. Two days after admission, the patient suddenly complained of severe epigastric pain and headache. Her blood pressure rose sharply to 195/120 mmHg. A 980 g female was delivered by emergency cesarean section. Following delivery, the patient's clinical condition and laboratory values deteriorated, with progressive liver insufficiency (peak AST level = 4246 IU/L, ALT = 3685 IU/L, LDH = 6237 IU/L, platelets = 72,000/mm(3)). Two consecutive plasma exchanges (PEX) were undertaken on the 3(rd) and 4(th) postpartum day. A contrast-enhanced CT of the abdomen performed 8 days postpartum showed geographically wedge-shaped areas of low attenuation, with a mottled appearance in the right hepatic lobe. Shortly thereafter, the patient recovered and all laboratory parameters gradually normalized 3 weeks after delivery. Follow-up CT-scan of the liver 2 months postpartum showed no evidence of infarction, with complete recovery.


We recommend that severely ill patients with HELLP syndrome having epigastric pain should undergo CT imaging of the liver. A trial of postpartum PEX therapy should be considered for treatment of the HELLP syndrome complicated with hepatic infarction, which is recalcitrant to conventional medical management, and fails to abate within 72-96 hours of delivery.

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